Thursday, August 24, 2006

Easiest Jam in the World

This isn't going to be a butter and toast jam. It's too tart.
But that's fine. The yellow plums it was made from are very tart, and it would be artificial, I think, to sweeten them up too much.
So let's respect the fruit's natural flavor profile, assume the vajrasana, and let it be.
Besides, it would take a lot of sugar.
I understand that a common metric for jams is to use equal proportions of sugar and fruit. I don't think I used even one-third that amount of sugar for the (admittedly small) amount of plums I had.
I also understand that it's common to use an envelope of powdered pectin to help thicken the jam. So would somebody explain why jam recipes call for added water, if the goal is to get a concentrated result?
Anyway. Ew. Powdered pectin. I mean, I think. I don't know.
My recipe calls for halving and pitting the plums (messy, sexy, delicious summer high jinks), running the fruit through a food mill (throw away the skins), and then stirring some sugar and a pinch of salt into the pulp. Taste it to see if you like the balance; the flavors will all concentrate equally, so you can't go wrong. Bake uncovered in a heatproof dish at 300°F for a long time. Depending on the quantity and wetness of the fruit, and the desired outcome, you could be baking for as long as five hours — but I don't think I've ever let it go that long; maybe half as long. Stir the pot now and then, nudging the gently browning outer portions back toward the center of the dish.
OK. That's it. That's it!
Easiest jam in the world.
It's not sterile-canned, so you'll have to store it in the refrigerator. (I think I want to learn how to do shelf-stable canning, but — I'm scared.)
As for what I plan to do with such a tart jam, I'm thinking meat. I might doctor it with additional flavorings (sake, sesame seeds, black pepper, maybe even ginger, which, darn it, I could have added while it was baking; that would have been grand). Slather it on fish or sausage, something like that.
Is that crazy? Would I be just as happy with a simple salsa of fresh fruit?
Oh well. It was fun.


Kalyn Denny said...

Personally I have enthusiastically resisted the impulse to learn how to do canning, but if you really want to learn about it, there's a great post on Veggie Venture today.

Cyndi said...

Shelf-stable canning of jams is really easy, and doesn't take any special equipment at all. All you need to do is sterilize the jars and lids-boiling water does the trick. I make jams often since they're so easy. Made some lime jelly last month, plus some apple butter.

shuna fish lydon said...

I was wondering the same thing about the water. the thing is that if there is no water all yer doing is evaporating the fruit's water and that can lead to scorching or caramelizing, which is not what you want.

(The June Taylor classes are still not all full up. I think you would like 'em...)

Michelle said...

This sounds wonderful - I may make it with the Italian plums dropping off the trees in our back yard! One can only eat so many raw and as is...

I actually like canning too, probably because I grew up on a farm and we always canned food as far back as I can remember. I'm with you on the not as much sugar and no pectin - I refuse to put anything weird in my jams and jellies - you don't need it (oftentimes you can just add a few green fruits and it will firm up using its own pectin) and that's the whole point of preserving the you can taste it in all it's splendor!

Anonymous said...

that is the way i used to make apple butter for the restaurant when i did not have time to babysit the pot for hours...yours with the plums looks yummy...

cookiecrumb said...

Kalyn: Cute. But yeah, Alanna's wrap-up is really comprehensive. Thanks a million for the tip.

Cyndi: I'm a wuss! I wasn't afraid of skiing, first time I tried, but I was deathly afraid of getting off the chairlift. Well. You're right. I'll try. (Lime jelly! Awesome.)

Shuna: That's true. I simply evaporated off the fruit's water. Is caramelizing bad? Scorching, I avoided. Thanks for proselytizing about June Taylor's classes... they're very good, I hear, but expensive.

Michelle: The scientist weighs in! OK, so you're brave about canning too. Case settled. (BTW, these little yellow plums were Pectin Acres. But I didn't know the secret about green fruit; thanks.)

Kat: Confession: This technique is Emily Luchetti's, which she published in Stars Desserts for peach butter! Clever you.